Cliff Murray had arrived early so when Dave Winston and George McKenzie arrived he was reading one of the Toronto newspapers that Mabel keeps around for the Grill’s customers.
“Did you see this?” he asked, pointing to the paper’s back page. “They’re building this 85-storey condo tower right at Yonge and Bloor in Toronto.”
“Who would want to live 85 storeys in the air?” wondered George. “Me, I get dizzy climbing to the top of the silo.”
“I’ll bet people are paying a lot of money to live there,” said Cliff. “You could probably buy a couple of farms for the price of one of those penthouses with a rooftop terrace.”
“I wonder if they’d allow you to keep chickens on one of those terraces?” said Dave. When he saw the others looking at him as if he’d lost his mind he explained – “Well I saw that in Toronto they’re going to let people keep backyard chickens from now on.”
“I hardly think somebody who pays millions for a condo needs cheap eggs,” scoffed George.
“Yeah but say they did – shouldn’t I have just as much right to keep chickens in my million-dollar rooftop terrace as somebody in their backyard? I mean the people who argued in favour of backyard chickens talked about how they were helping the environment because they could feed them table scraps instead of throwing them in the garbage,” said Dave.
“Except they’re turning them into manure,” said Cliff.
“Which they can use to fertilize their garden so they get more table scraps to feed the chickens,” said Dave.
“I wonder if they have to have nutrient management plans?” wondered George. “You know ‘You got two extra chickens this year so you need to expand your garden to use up the extra manure’.”
Cliff shook his head. “I don’t know, with so many people in the city who are against animal agriculture I’d be afraid of being picketed by my neighbours if I was one of those guys who got chickens.”
“Yeah, funny thing about animal rights people,” said George, waving at the paper Cliff set down. “You take that 85-storey condo, there. If we stacked animals on the farm like they stack people in the condos we’d be blamed for keeping animals in a cruel and unnatural environment. But with people, it’s a good thing.”
“Yeah, every time I read something in one of those Toronto papers it’s all about density, density, density,” said Cliff.
“I like all those stories you see about the wonders of vertical farming,” said Dave. “Everybody’s talking about the ‘efficiency’ of growing crops in these big buildings in the city.”
“Going to have to be darned efficient when you figure in the cost of millions of dollars to buy an acre of land in the city, not to mention a lot more millions to put up the building,” said George.
“Yeah, and we complain about the cost of land around here!” said Cliff.
“Then you’ve got all this stuff going on about growing meat in factories in the cities!” grumbled George.
“I think people are so excited about anything that’s new these days that we farmers are just too old- fashioned to matter,” said Dave.
“So we’ve got all this good farmland but we won’t need it because everything’s going to be grown in the city? Doesn’t make sense to me!” said George.
“I think they think we should let everything outside the city go back to bush,” said Cliff.
“So what are those of us who used to be farmers supposed to do?” wondered George.
“I suppose we’re supposed to go to work in one of those vertical farms but they’re going to have to pay darn well so I can afford to live in that 85-storey condo,” suggested Cliff.◊